Friday, February 6, 2009


Here's some food for thought on the county option income tax and some valid reasons why such a tax should not be enacted:

1) The country is in a recession, and Northwest Indiana is now #2 in the nation in year-to-year increases in unemployment. And our elected officials want to sock us with new taxes. What are they smoking?

2) Cities, towns, and Lake County need to learn to live within their budgets. They still have not made enough substantial cuts and eliminated unnecessary fat to even justify asking taxpayers for more money. Taxpayers are forced to live within their means and stick to a budget, why can't governments? Accountability, try it sometime.

3) Why should we the taxpayers pay a county income tax just to give ourselves tax relief? Isn't that just putting money in the right pocket only to take it out of the left one?

4) Enough already with these stupid pie-in-sky projects. We do not need a new convention center. We do not need another strip mall or shopping center. We don't need another marina or banquet halls. It's not the government's responsibility to be in business. Let the private sector build these projects. And we don't need a South Shore extension to Lowell or Valparaiso. A small segment of the population would actually benefit from this project. This project only encourages more urban sprawl. How many more strip malls do we need?

5) Let Lake County residents vote in a referendum and have the final say on whether we want an income tax or not. Or any other tax for that matter.

6) Elected officials need to remember they work for the people who elected them and not the other way around. Quit catering to special interests, lobbyists and other politicians. Taxpayers have had enough!

Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group does not support a county option income tax. Can't get much clearer than that.

What can you do? Contact your county council members and/or attend county council meetings and voice your opposition to the income tax. This tax can be defeated.


We knew our elected officials just couldn't let it rest, and Team Hammond would have rather been wrong than right on this one.

The idea of a county option income tax has been resurrected again. Local mayors are currently in discussions with state legislators and county council members about the need for an income tax to finance their big public works projects and shortfalls in their city budgets.

Leading the way is Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura, who last spring spearheaded a "Save Whiting" charge and was instrumental in getting state legislators to exclude Lake County from the 1. 2, 3 tax caps in House Bill 1001 until 2020.

And now Lake County Councilman Tom O'Donnell who opposed the county income tax in 2007 appears to be wavering in his stance.

Councilman O'Donnell said, "I want to hear from the towns. There will be a huge (anti-tax) response and alot of honked people, but somehow government has got to be paid for. You can't do 2010 with 2007 dollars.

"The municipalities have to be getting nervous at this point - and not just the big cities. The bottom line is I anticipate a cry from both the cities and towns to unfreeze our levy and do it however we've got to do it."

However, both County Commissioner Fran DuPey and Gerry Scheub remain firmly opposed to a county option income tax.

Commissioner DuPey said, "I am admantly against the tax. That's why I'm still here in office instead of retired."

In 2007 the county option income tax was voted on and approved by the county council. County Councilman Christine Cid said recently at the Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group meeting she voted in favor of the income tax because 100% of the tax was to be directed for property tax relief.

Not so this time. Local officials are pursuing legislation that would split in half the monies generated by the tax. One half would be for property tax relief and the other half would be for
big ticket projects such as the South Shore extension or the Little Calumet River flood control program.

It is estimated that $92 million would be generated by the county option income tax.


February 5, 2009
By Erik Potter
Post-Tribune staff writer

John Curley will seek another term as chairman of the Lake County Republican Central Committee, but he'll be doing it with a team of new faces.

Curley is backing a slate of new officers, including Kim Krull for vice chairwoman, George Janiec for secretary, and Kevin VanLinden for treasurer.

The new people represent a younger, fresher approach for the party, Curley said, without giving many specifics.

"I'm the senior member, but we've brought in young, energetic people who are involved," Curley said. "There's not a 'yes person' in the group. They're all free thinkers. They bring what's best to the party."

Janiec, the last piece added to the slate, said he had only accepted the secretary nomination in the past day, so the group had yet to form a concrete agenda. But he saw room to exploit what he said was a slowness from the Democrats to cut government budgets, and a lack of youth engaged in county politics on either side of the aisle.

"(Republicans need to) show the real face of the party,"?Janiec said. "They're not rich capitalists or industrialists. They're people just like you and me. Just like their Democratic counterparts, but they happen to think and vote a little differently."

Both parties' committee chairman controls appointments to the Lake County Board of Elections and fills vacancies in party's precinct organization.

Central committee officers will be selected by members of that precinct organization at a county convention on Saturday,
March 7.

From the Post-Tribune


Let it be known that at the meeting of Tuesday, January 27, 2009, Team Hammond Taxpayer's Group unanimously resolved to support the E-VERIFY bills presented and to be presented before either Indiana State legislative body.

This resolution represents the will of significant numbers of taxpayers, constituents not only in Hammond and its sister communities, but also that of fellow member tax activist groups throughout the state of Indiana.

Tax activists members are dedicated to their obligation to vote during elections. Fiscal
responsibility during the current economic crisis is imperative and critical to the survival of Indiana taxpayers/voters and their way of life and their beloved Hoosier heritage.

The current economic problems are considerably exacerbated by the failure of Indiana legislators to promptly and responsibly move on Immigration issues --- issues identified as onerous, inequitable, and debilitating.

It is the intention of the Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group membership in attendance to forward their concerns with clear and determined language to those members of the Indiana State Legislature that receive this missive.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Bill Number: SB 479

Subject: Regional Transportation Districts

First Author: Senator Tim Lanane, D-Anderson

Summary of Legislation: Establishing Regional Transportation Districts. The bill permits counties to establish a regional transportation district (RTD) to plan, design, acquire, construct, enlarge, improve, renovate, maintain, equip, finance, operate, and support public transportation systems.

Fees and Taxes: It establishes a fee on vehicle registrations, and permits the creation of allocation areas, the establishment of a special allocation of county option income taxes, and the imposition of a food and beverage tax, a county economic development income tax, or a special benefits property tax to provide funding to regional transportation districts.

Mergers: It permits other public transportation agencies to merge into a regional transportation district.

Deputy Commissioner: The bill requires the Governor to appoint a Deputy Commissioner for the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to assist the commissioner with the public transportation responsibilities of INDOT.

Effective Date: Upon passage.

Blunt Proof of the Feasibility to Permanently Abolish Property Tax

Media Contacts:
Melyssa Donaghy 317-938-8913
Max Katz 765-409-6669

Hoosiers For Fair Taxation, Senator Delph, Representative Noe, Representative Elrod and many other legislators along with Stop Indiana, attorney John Price, Eric Miller's Advance America, and the Statewide Taxpayer Alliance know that property tax abolishment, without substantial increases in sales tax and income tax, is realistic and possible. The economist Dr. Bill Styring's 2/2/2 Plan demonstrates that the state of Indiana can completely replace property tax without changing the state's current spending habits.

Dr. Styring's plan does not account for positive changes in Indiana's economy that will undoubtedly follow the elimination of property tax such as heavy real estate investment and increased consumer spending due to increased statewide disposable income. The real estate investment in Indiana alone would cause such an economic boom that it could likely end our abandoned property and foreclosure crisis. Property tax elimination would also likely cause a surge in Indiana's population as more people locate to Indiana to take advantage of real estate purchase opportunities without the burden of property tax. With the population surge would come more sales and income taxes.

The General Assembly does not have to adopt a specific plan until the year 2011. In the meantime, we recommend that the General Assembly approves the 27steps outlined in the report prepared by the Sheperd Kernan commission. While the Governor's commission cannot forecast the savings to the state once the plan is implemented, there is no doubt that the savings would be substantial--perhaps equivalent to the the entire property tax burden currently placed on Indiana's homeowners because our legislators have not had the political will to liberate Indiana's governing structure and her taxpayers from the 19th century.

Our citizen networks will work to replace all legislators who do not support property tax repeal in the November 2008 election.

The 2/2/2 Plan, to replace property taxes in Indiana based upon the latest revenue forecast (07/08 fiscal, estimate):

1) Current IN sales tax (state level rate of 6%): $5.601 billion2% increase would yield an additional $1.867 billion

2) Current corporate profits tax: ~$2 billion

2% increase would yield an additional $.286 billion ($286M)

3) A 2% statewide average of the COIT would yield $2.705 billion to cover local civil units of gov.

By adding these three together ($1.867 billion + $.286 billion + $2.705 billion), a total of $4.858 billion is realized; enough revenue to replace property taxes.

Indiana has a 70-plus year history of attempts to lower property taxes by raising other, non-property taxes. In every case these have failed miserably. The new taxes, or higher rates on old taxes, remain in place. And, in short order, property taxes rise back to their old levels, poised to roar even higher.

--1933. General Assembly imposes two new taxes: an individual gross income tax and a corporate gross income tax. The morgue of the Indianapolis Star indicates that the political leadership at the time said this was for property tax relief (1933 was the pits of the Great Depression, and people were losing their homes. Home prices declined by over 40% in the 1929-1933 period). Property tax relief was nonexistent. The state used the money to bail out the state's own finances.

--1963. General Assembly imposes a new sales tax at a rate of 2% and changes the 1933 individual gross income tax (from 1933) to an adjusted gross income tax (the one we have now) at a rate of 2%. Again, the ostensible reason was for property tax relief and again little PTR was forthcoming.

--1967. Those 1963 tax changes were raising more money than projected. The GA decides to give back 8% of sales and income tax revenue to local government for property tax relief. Local units spent the money. No PTR.

--1973. Gov. Otis Bowen launches the most determined PTR offensive yet. The sales tax goes to 4% and a new corporate supplemental net income (profits) tax is imposed. Strict property tax levy controls are imposed. It works... for a time. By 1980, property taxes adjusted for inflation are some 30% lower than in 1973. When Bowen leaves office the levy controls are relaxed. By the end of the decade, property taxes (adjusted for inflation) are back to 1973 levels. The doubling of the sales tax rate from 2% to 4% remains in place, along with the new corporate SNIT.

--2002. More fiddling with the sales tax in the hope of property tax relief. The results of this are obvious, or we wouldn't be debating the current property tax mess. All of this suggests that unless the property tax is totally ripped up by constitutional amendment, the assessment and collection mechanism dismantled, it will grow back. The PTR-inspired hikes in other taxes remain. That is our history. It is a terrible deal for taxpayers.

2. A vote in the 2008 legislative session for a constitutional amendment to repeal property taxes does not amend the constitution. It merely starts the amendment process. Amendments must be passed by two consecutively elected General Assemblies, then submitted to a referendum. Thus any amendment passed by the '08 Assembly must be passed by either the 2009 or 2010 legislatures, then submitted to the voters at the 2010 general election. The General Assembly does not need to decide on a "replacement revenue" package until the 2011 session.

3. What might such a "replacement revenue" package look like? The particular answer will come from the 2011 General Assembly and cannot be determined now (if for no other reason than forecasting state level taxes and property taxes out that far would be a most unreliable exercise. No one need be locked into any particular plan just yet. However, as an illustration that a replacement plan is feasible and less scary than many fear (we don't need to be talking about a 12% or 13% sales tax ... in fact, we should not be), consider just this one possibility.

Local sales taxes are generally very bad policy, for a whole host of reasons too numerous to mention in this short sketch. Sales and corporate taxes are best levied at the state level. It happens that roughly a 2% increase in the sales tax and a 2% increase in the corporate profits tax roughly take care of school propertytaxes. The loss of local control by the state assuming school property taxes is minimal. About the onlylocal control left is on building projects.

For local civil units, a statewide average increase in the individual adjusted gross income tax of about 2% suffices to replace local civil government property taxes, higher than 2% in some units, less than 2% in others.

Thus, a "2-2-2" plan~2% sales and 2% corporate profits at the state level for schools and a 2% average on personal income taxes for civil units—is about what would be needed. This is merely a ballpark projection to 2011.

There may be better plans, it's really a policy question for the General Assembly: do you want to make the trade of something like this in exchange for no-property-taxes-forever-on-anything? Everyone understands "zero."

4. Are there "practical problems? Of course. The two identified are how to make the civil government transition from a property tax base to an income tax base, and how to handle debt backed by property taxes. Without elaborating, the former can be handled using locator software (Map quest-type programs). The debt problem might be handled by treating the current state paid PTRC's as in lieu of property taxes (which they are) and paying PT-backed debt service from each unit's own PTRC.

Conclusion: Total elimination of the property tax via constitutional amendment is the only way to give property tax relief that will stick. The other tax action necessary to achieve this goal—in 2011-are large but not so scary as "a 13% sales tax." They are feasible. The question is for the General Assembly. Are we going to once again go down that 70-odd year path of failed PTR policies or are we going to rip the property tax up by the roots?

Posted by Hoosiers For Fair Taxation on Friday, January 4, 2008.